On PEBP, some small but significant steps have been taken in the last few weeks. The PEBP Board at its rescheduled meeting on March 29 did allocate – as NSHE and UNLV representatives had sought – all its projected excess reserve to reduce out-of-pocket costs for faculty and staff and their families in 2012-2013, primarily by enhancing HSA/HRA employer contributions for next year.
While this will bring some monetary benefit for most faculty and staff for next year (though not, unfortunately, those enrolled in the HMO plan), it is heartening as well that the public discussion of PEBP's excess reserves highlights the point that many faculty and staff believe – and which the NSHE Task Force continues to study – that competitive health coverage can be made available to NSHE faculty and staff without additional cost to the state.
The PEBP Board also, at the urging particularly of NSHE faculty and staff, approved state subsidies for domestic partners of state public service workers enrolled in PEBP, on the same basis as spouses.
The PEBP Board, however, chose not to alter the basic plan design, as we had sought, to offer participants a "middle tier" (between HMO and the current high-deductible option) that would offer predictable and clearly comprehensible costs for office visits and prescription drugs. All faculty and stuff should continue to advocate for such an alternative for NSHE in the 2013-2015 biennium, either from PEBP or from another insurance pool.